One of the things which seems to be a bit lost with reference to the tragedy in Arizona is addressed by the following:
Whenever there’s some gun-related massacre or crime spree, you have the usual cries for tighter gun-control. One of the things this hysterical reaction overlooks is the fact that it’s not just civilians who sometimes go bad. The folks on the other side of law enforcement can also go bad.
Yet, when police go bad, you don’t hear the usual groups demand that we prohibit policemen for arming themselves–or impose other restrictions [on ] police powers.
We seem to consider that lawbreaking by a member of law enforcement is anomalous and should not reflect on the group, yet lawbreaking by a non-member of law enforcement is seen as indicative of the behavior and risks of the group as a whole.
This really goes back to one’s beliefs with regard to man’s moral character. Does one believe that man is moral because he wills himself to be or because there is a standard outside of himself to which he is held? If one believes that man is intrinsically good (and only does bad things because of his environment, peer pressure, violent political rhetoric, etc), then the Arizona tragedy was entirely avoidable and indeed should not really even be blamed on the person who squeezed the trigger. It should be blamed on those who caused the wrong environment and caused an otherwise good person do bad things.
If, however, one understands that man is intrinsically flawed, then whether laws are broken by a apparently disturbed young civilian or a law enforcement officer or a member of Congress or anyone else–we understand the genesis for such actions and place the responsibility for them on the people themselves.
Are there ever times when people do the wrong things because they are encouraged, cajoled, bribed, or otherwise pressured into them by others? Absolutely. However, their own responsibility is not done away with in these cases–though the context should be considered with reference to relative punishment.
Bottom line? If we start with an incorrect understanding of why we make wrong decisions, we will find it difficult to arrive at a correct conclusion.